The City Maker
And then you lost her behind a door. Her face jagged and cut out. A golden knob for a mouth. A fine wood—maybe reddened like old cherry. It was carefully carved. And most importantly—closed. She'd always enjoyed the image of a ship captain locked behind this kind of door. The smell of ink, a back hunched, pouring the body's forwardness over maps. Spilling itself. One candle spilling also. The rest in shadows.
She found her way there, eventually. It is not impossible. And when she got there, she made the most incredible outlines. Listen. Blueprints and topographies of almost unendurable towns. Filled with women. Darkened ankles and soles clicking on cobblestone. She could not bear them to be alone. So, with each is her perfect companion. Listen. The ones with burnt orange and red combs in their hair are followed closely by trails of dogs. Other menageries. Tucans. Sunda Colugo. They whisper to them with private tongues. Secretly forked. And then the little girls with clear jars surround every corner. The bottles gripped tight and close. Each one a different color. The crystal capsules are filled with hurricanes or curtains of pulsing fireflies. One has the wisp of a ghost. Guarded carefully. Some women are strangers to the town. They speak slowly. With quiet breaths they murmur the words they most love in their native language. And those whose faces resemble elegant cracked porcelein, an intentional accident of artistry, possess pamphlets about hidden music that happens in rooms behind many doors where these women will open their lungs, uncage their placid tongues, and create the only exit from the world. And beyond them, the ones who still need to hold their mother's hand. These are older than you'd expect. Rarely ever children. And more, listen. Women with wax faces that change them into the gestures of theatre masks, ancient ones, and some who sit in glassy fields all day long waiting for Monarchs to land upon them. And when they do—dazzling. And, listen, this is the most important part. She could never enter her own towns. So she made and made until she became wretched.
More spaces for women who stay under sleeping bags all night with flashlights and whisper. And more for ones who try to perfect dead man's drop. Once a whole house, endless. A woman who wanted to stay lost. And the wider, the more intricate and glorious existence that your mother created, the further she felt from it. She must have resembled God, eventually. Exhausted. Innumerable. Unquenched. Of course, she could not last forever. But, not dead, no I don't think so. Just sleeping. There's a story about seven sleepers, do you know it? Or Rip Van Winkle? Like them, I think she'll come back finally.
But, listen, here's what's important: even though she slumbers, the cities bustle on.
is a graduate of the Texas State MFA program and has been previously published in Narrative Magazine
. He also has work forthcoming from Gulf Coast